Weekly Roundup: You Know I’d Love You If I Knew You’d Let Me Down Edition

Highly ironic that just as I sail into my sixth decade on this planet I have my first authentic experience of We Found Something Else during a talk with a doctor. Some of my older readers will know this phenomenon very well: you’re talking to a medical professional about a problem you’ve had and they explain that their testing uncovered another problem. In my case, I was in the middle of getting some bad news about my left wrist (Cliffs Notes: the bone isn’t going to heal correctly) when I was told that they also found some nerve damage in my arms.

Cue an early-morning appointment with a bunch of electrodes and needles. “You have some real problems at both inside elbows. Do you know if anything ever happened to you there?”

“Look at the texture of the skin in that area,” I replied, “because that’s what you get when you land on your inside elbows a hundred-plus times, following some sort of cycling mishap.” There’s some surgery that could fix it. Ninety-nine percent chance of improvement, I’m told. One percent chance of making it worse. Since we’ve shut down the whole country for something with a 99.9% survival rate, I’m thinking one percent sounds pretty scary. In any event I don’t have time for two nerve surgeries right now, so we will, ahem, continue to monitor the situation.

As of last night, however, I am back on my bike in earnest, having survived an evening with the kid at Ray’s indoor MTB park in Cleveland. The wrist worked pretty well. It is a little painful on each landing, but I’m not bothered by that. The problem would be if the pain was followed by weakness, the way it is when you have a bad tendon or ligament in a joint. And that’s barely the case. Truthfully, I’m hardly riding any worse than I would be if I took eight weeks off just at random.

Which leads me to a few thoughts about reliabilty. In people, in everything else.

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Weekly Roundup: Let’s Pick A Truck Edition

As dreams go, it’s not exactly a big one, but it was mine: Our 2017 Silverado was about sixteen months away from being paid off, so I’d planned to buy myself a Genesis G90 this summer while I could still get a new one with a V8. There’s a new G90 coming, and I’m sure it will be very nice, but it won’t have the five-liter. If I wanted a V-6 luxury car, I’d do the decent thing and find one of the 3,453 1982 Eldorados built with the Buick 4.1-liter, of course.

That dream came to a rather abrupt end when a six-point buck stepped out from behind a McDonald’s (I kid you not) and collected my Silverado in a manner that the insurance company deemed a total loss. End of truck. In theory I could replace it with another 2017-era truck, pay it off in a hurry, and still be in my G90 before my fifty-first birthday — but that’s a false economy, because I’d likely be buying someone else’s trouble and I have zero tolerance for problems while towing the race cars.

So it’s time to buy another truck and leave the Korean luxury-sedan game to my brother, who is in possession of a G80 and and a G70. Oh well. Bark was always the lucky kid in the family. After looking at my racing plans for the next few years, I’ve realized that I probably to swap my aluminum single-car open hauler and enclosed Radical trailer for a single big box that will carry both cars at a total rolling weight of around nine thousand pounds. While it’s possible for the stronger half-tons to pull such a rig, it’s smarter and easier to do with a diesel three-quarter-ton.

Which one?

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Weekly Roundup: He Was A Midwestern Boy On His Own Edition

Not guilty on all counts. Who saw that coming? Yes, Rittenhouse had a remarkably strong self-defense case, one further bolstered by every video, still photo, or personal detail that came out in the past year, but the media had laid on a full-court press since last August to demonize him as a “white supremacist” (who didn’t shoot any Black people), a “fascist” (who had volunteered to guard a car dealership owned by minorities) or a “murderer” (who ran from his attackers until he was knocked down). Thankfully for Kyle, the prosecutor was a confirmed moron who committed pretty much every error in the book, from pointing a gun at the jury with his finger on the trigger to describing Joseph Rosenbaum, who admitted to anally penetrating five boys between the ages of 9 and 11, as a “hero”.

If you want the official Riverside Green position on the case, here you go: I wish Kyle had stayed home with his mom that night. I don’t celebrate anyone’s death, even the death of pedophile rapists and serial abusers. That being said, a significant amount of recorded history centers around young men choosing to fight when they didn’t have to, whether we are talking about the “Flying Tigers” or Charles XII of Sweden. It’s a measure of the invisible distortions applied by society to our thinking that we are somehow less surprised by a young man volunteering to fight for Blackwater halfway around the world than we are by a young man who wants to clean up graffiti in his dad’s home town.

Some of my readers and friends are of the opinion that Kyle should have been put under the jail, so out of respect for them I don’t want to discuss the actual shootings any more. Rather, I want to concentrate on a remarkable perspective that circulated around Blue Tribe social media, allegedly from a “combat veteran”, regarding… insurgents. Oh, and let’s talk about the “mutual combat” rulings in Chicago while we’re at it, shall we?

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Weekly Roundup: The Vaccine They Don’t Want You To Get Edition

Good news: There’s a COVID-19 vaccine out there that:

  • Is more than 90% effective in clinical trials at actually preventing infection of all variants, rather than being merely palliative for Delta et al
  • Operates in almost identical fashion to a conventional vaccine, rather than using the mRNA pathway or other methods that reprogram living human cells
  • Doesn’t need to be cold stored
  • Results in fewer, and mild, side effects
  • Was lauded by The Atlantic four months ago as “The Best Vaccine”
  • Has not been linked to heart disorders or anaphylaxis
  • Costs less to produce than any other “vaccine” for COVID-19
  • Was developed in the United States by an American company

Sound good to you? Are you interested in this? Great! You can get it today… in Indonesia, and India. But not here. In fact, there’s no plan to make it available to American citizens — unless those citizens have already had two shots from Pfizer or Moderna.

Surely I’m making this up, right?

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(Double) Weekly Roundup: Dune For Dummies Edition

Long-time readers of this site know that the mythology and cultural detritus of the Dune novels have littered my writing for the best part of two decades now. Unfortunately some of my favorite Dune-related content had to be deleted from Riverside Green during the Time Of The Great Whining To My Employer About Mean Website Articles last year. That’s okay because you can find much of it told somewhat more coherently on Scott Locklin’s site.

There is something about Dune and its sequels that has proven magnetic to the disaffected-individualist-intellectual typa dude again and again since 1965. We called President Trump the “God Emperor” in ironic homage to Leto II, the tragic hero of the fourth book in the series. (In hindsight, we can see that Trump was more like Paul Atreides, who unleashed a jihad then ran into the desert rather than live with the consequences of his actions, but no matter.) During my two decades in tech contracting, I often referred to some enthusiastic but misguided colleague as having “put himself in the way of the Harkonnen fist” and this phrasing never failed to elicit a knowing smile in the nerds around me.

Recently I compelled my twelve-year-old son to put his metaphorical hand in the metaphorical gom-jabbar painbox by making the completion of Dune a condition for the arrival of a new airsoft gun. He’s cheating my directive a bit by listening to the audiobook more than reading the actual pages, but it’s still been tough going for him. So I took him to the theater to see the new Dune movie, figuring it would whet his appetite to pick up the book and see how it all ends. In this attempt, I was successful, much like Miles Teg negotiating the Bene Gesserit forces out of yet another deadly confrontation, or perhaps the Grand Honored Matre forcing a Futar to do her bidding. (You haven’t read Chapterhouse:DUNE? Shame on you!)

My hopes were fairly low, as Dune is one of those books that seems designed to elude a competent film adaptation. This 2021 release, which covers the first half of the first book, is the third complete attempt to tell at least some of Frank Herbert’s story, following the infamous 1984 David Lynch film and the Sci-Fi mini-series. (A moment of silence for Alejandro Jodorowsky and his attempt to make a 14-hour Dune movie.) It’s received generally positive reviews, but that means very little in a world where most film critics are motivated almost entirely by considerations of culture and politics. What follows is a brief review from the perspective of a lifelong Dune fan and compulsive re-reader of the series.

Obviously, there are spoilers ahead, for a 1965 book and its kinda-sorta-faithful adaptation.

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(Last) Weekly Roundup: The Naked Hellscape Of Net Zero Edition

It sure is hard out here for a hillbilly conspiracy theorist nowadays, ain’t it? No matter how bat-you-know-what crazy your completely nutcase theory might be — there’s a pedophile island visited by Presidents! The United States directly supported gain-of-function coronavirus research at the Wuhan Institute! The Chamber Of Commerce organized a secret coalition to subvert the 2020 election! — it almost immediately turns out to be true, either in whole or in part. Heck, even the oft-ridiculed trope about “the chemicals in the water are turning the frogs gay!” turns out to have some serious research behind it.

If you clicked the last link, you’ll see that Atrazine doesn’t turn male frogs gay, in the commonly understood sense of the word. Rather, it emasculates most of them and turns a percentage of the rest into female frogs. This rather nice distinction would be enough to earn the Gay Frogs Claim a “False!” from the plagiarists at Snopes or a “Pants On Fire!” from Politifact. Much of the “fact-checking” you see done in today’s media is reliant on such fine-grained examination; see this note on HR 1 as an example.

I mention all of this because you’re about to see a rather disturbing document that purports to show how the British Government will manipulate public opinion to accept everything from eating bugs to staying in their homes while the elite continue to travel at will. The fact-checkers are already hard at work trying to separate the authors of this document from the Government — but in this case, they are likely to fail.

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Weekly Roundup: Floating Like A Lilo Edition

Arrogant and unpleasant disclaimer: sit this one out, or skip to the end, unless you’re at least 1 SD+. I don’t feel like reading comments from people who will be moving their lips to read the next 2300 words. Sorry about that.

Of all the expensive delicacies out there, from white pearl albino caviar to the “Stingray Burger” at the National Corvette Museum, surely the most indulgent would be the intellectual notion that there is a universal human experience, capable of being accessed by any sufficiently broad-minded person. Our distant ancestors would have scoffed at the notion; virtually all ancient languages make no distinction between “people” and “our people”, the implication being that others are inherently different and probably worse besides. The Romans did not seek to understand the Vandals. Even among the Greek city-states there was always this simmering notion of cultural incompatibility, accompanied by the baggage of equal parts disdain and fear.

Not until the Enlightenment did the intellectual class start to get the notion Amberthat the similarities across races and cultures were greater than the differences. By the middle of the Twentieth Century this had morphed into a sort of outsider worship; I’m thinking in particular of the Western fascination with Indian and Chinese thought and dogma as exemplified by the “guru” fetish and a blossoming interest in Zen. (The late Jeff Cooper, in one of his Commentaries, despaired that young men in the Seventies and Eighties had utterly abandoned the study of Roman and Greek culture in favor of Eastern mysticism and obscurity, thus becoming incompetent at understanding two cultures instead of at least being masters in their own.)

From that outsider worship fifty years ago, we have now degraded to a sort of infantile volunteer tribalism, a perverse figure-ground approach in which power, relevance, and even safety are derived by calculating one’s distance from the untouchable (in the Dalit sense, not the exalted one) state of white Christian American “cis-straight” male. Everything in our society, from hiring decisions to quality of medical care, is now determined via this calculus. The comedian Dave Chappelle just released a comedy special in which he discusses a confrontation he had with a white man at a nightclub. The white man threatened to call the police on Chappelle; the implication here, to anyone sufficiently versed in the identity catechism, is that such a call would be tantamount to attempted murder, since police are killing unarmed Black men at the feverish, breakneck rate of one in 1.3 million annually. This makes the white man a clear villain, and absolutely deserving of some mob justice, real or virtual — until Chappelle notes that the white man was gay. At that point, every person who does any business in modern society finds themselves doing back-of-the-envelope perceived-privilege calculations. Who’s more oppressed here?

In this way, we have leached all meaning from action, which can then only be truly understood in the context of the societal value accorded to each different type of person. If I call the police on you, is that bad? Fifty years ago, we would say “It depends on what you’ve done.” Now, we say that it depends on what you are. Sometimes it is good to burn a Federal building. Sometimes it is treason to walk past one. It all depends on who you are.

This new morality would confuse the living hell out of Pascal or Sartre, but it would have sat perfectly well with any illiterate cave-dweller of prehistoric times. So in a sense it is more authentic, truer, than any outdated notions regarding a “brotherhood of Man” or any of the goofy stuff in our country’s thoroughly irrelevant founding documents. You ignore it at your peril.

All of this is a long-winded way for me to say: I’m not sure I’m allowed to listen to, comment or, or apply critical thinking to the topic at hand, namely: two of the greatest pop records to be released in years, maybe decades. Why? Simple: they are the product of a relationship between two young British lesbians.

Let’s go.

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(Last) Weekly Roundup: Screenless In DC Edition

I got an email last night, more than two days after the fact, from the nice people (by which I mean overseas-sourced Mechanical Turks) at SPIN scooters, telling me something along the lines of Parking Photo Not Approved. As many of you no doubt know, SPIN is one of the half-dozen providers of urban rental scooters, following in the footsteps of BIRD. What makes SPIN different: they have some sort of backing from Ford, and the scooters are slightly but usably faster than the competition from Lime and elsewhere. (As I noted while leaving a Lime in the dust along the reflecting pool near the Washington Monument: “Lime? More like lame, am I right?”) Beyond that, you are also required to take a photo of your scooter when you park it, so they know you didn’t vandalize the scooter or park it on top of a homeless person.

Which I had done, Saturday at 1:07PM. Now, late in Monday’s evening, SPIN was indicating their dissatisfaction. What was I supposed to do? Find the same scooter, two-plus days after the fact, and photograph it again? Why wait this long to tell me the photo wasn’t good enough? I was reminded of Samuel Johnson’s famous letter to Lord Chesterfield, who had declined to be a patron to Johnson’s Dictionary until Johnson had effectively finished the work: “The notice which you have been pleased to take of my labours, had it been early, had been kind: but it has been delayed till I am indifferent and cannot enjoy it; till I am solitary and cannot impart it; till I am known and do not want it.”

What didn’t SPIN like about the photo? Hard to tell. I thought it was pretty well done, particularly since at the time of photography my Samsung S21 Ultra looked as it does in the image opening this column. Yup, that’s what you call “a thoroughly destroyed $1,799 phone” — and on just the fifth day of ownership? Sucks to be me. But that’s not all.

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Weekly Roundup: Time Out For Bad Behavior And The Gentle Sci-Fi Of Donald Fagen Edition

It could have been a lot worse than it was. Six to eight weeks off the bike, won’t be playing much guitar for a while, can still operate an airsoft rifle and a race car (sorta). Still don’t like it. And it would have been better, somehow, if I hadn’t led most of the race. Easier to go from DFL to a broken wrist than from P1 to same. I’m not permitted to lift any weights with my left hand/arm, which will make it a bit more difficult to hold onto the nearly twenty-pound weight loss I managed in August and September. Oh, and then I managed to completely break my rather fancy, and in no way completely paid for, Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra phone. Just to make sure I entered the month of October flat broke, earlier today my freelance/personal IdeaPad suffered death-of-the-keyboard after just four and a half years of use. (That’s sarcasm; not since my mighty 600X have I actually gotten this much use out of a laptop.) None of this qualifies as tragedy but it also doesn’t qualify for any of the sympathy I would receive were I subject to an actual tragedy.

On the other hand, those of us who live in a permanent Seventies of the soul have some good news to celebrate, so let’s get to that.

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(Last) Weekly Roundup: It’s not inEVitable edition

Last week, commenter Ken asked why I get so militant on the subject of electric vehicles, both here and in the digital pages of Hagerty. Yesterday, one of our most time-honored and respected commenters suggested, in his own kind way, that this blog had become “anti-science”.

If nobody minds, I’d like to respond to this pair of comments together, because there’s a strong common thread running through both of them. Trigger warning: this post is likely to contain Master of Orion content.

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